During a March 9 hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines expressed the need for intel agencies to focus more intensely on “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The hearing was called by Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) to discuss global threats.
Haines took the opportunity to make comments about the need for the intelligence community (IC) to hire more minorities on the basis of their race.
Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) addressed the issue of “workforce development” in questioning to Haines.
Citing earlier comments from David Petraeus, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Carson contended that minorities were underrepresented in the IC.
“What are your organizations doing to improve diversity when it comes to recruiting and retaining your workforces?” Carson asked Haines and the other panelists. “Does the IC need to devote more resources to professional development? How do you all plan on tackling those very apparent issues?”
“I think there is no question that we have to do better on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” Haines replied promptly.
Haines pointed to recent budget requests in which her organization had requested more funding to carry out “more intense efforts” to increase the presence of minorities in the IC.
“I think you’ll see in our budget requests and our proposals in all of the work that we’re doing that … we see this as an area that we need to focus more intense resources and efforts,” Haines said.
She specifically noted the lack of Hispanic and Latinos among the leadership of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
“In the senior leadership [of the ODNI], I look at the percentage of Hispanic and Latinos for example,” Haines said. “It is, as you know, a little bit more than three percent, and that clearly does not reflect the country.”
Haines continued that the IC needs to do better at “ensuring that we have data that is reliable, [data] that allows us to be held accountable to what our diversity and inclusion is.”
She added, “We are also working across a range of other issues that we’ve seen to promote recruiting across the country in a variety of different communities to ensure that we’re reaching folks that don’t normally come to the IC or know about the IC.”
The hearing was overall a tense one for Haines and her peers, who were grilled by Republicans on reported civil rights abuses of the U.S. surveillance state.
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